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HolidayBuyer's Guide

Meet Theta

It's all about the lenses

Small and light

Buttons

Of course there's an app

Tap to shoot

Tripod mount

Pinch, swipe, rotate

The Ricoh Theta is a camera designed to do one thing: capture the entire scene around you -- top to bottom -- in one shot, creating fully spherical images.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
Theta features a proprietary ultrasmall twin-lens optical system.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
The body measures 1.7 inches wide by 5.1 inches high by 0.9 inch thick (though without the lenses it's only 0.7 inch thick). It weighs only 3.4 ounces, too, with its built-in battery and 4GB of storage. It can take up to 200 shots on a full charge and store up to 1,200 images.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
The only controls on the body are the power and Wi-Fi on/off buttons on the side and a shutter release on front.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
The Theta directly connects wirelessly via Wi-Fi to an iPhone 4S or 5 or fourth- or fifth-gen iPod Touch models; Android support is expected before the year is out. Not only does this give you a way to view and interact with images, but it acts as a remote shutter release.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
Since the camera only does the one thing, the app only really needs a shutter release. Once you shoot, the image starts downloading to your mobile device. Within seconds, it's on your device ready to view or share.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
The 6mm lenses (35mm equivalent) captures so much of the scene that shooting with the camera in your hand can make for some weird results. The Theta can stand on its own, but also has a tripod mount.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET

Once the images are on your device, you can manipulate them with your fingers. Zoom in and out, swipe through them and send them spinning, or rotate to see the sky above or ground below.

You can then upload them to a dedicated Theta site for sharing on social networks and on Microsoft's Photosynth and Bing Maps sites. A desktop version for Mac and Windows allows high-res images to be saved, viewed, and shared from there, too.

Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
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